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More Emphasis Now on Mental Health Care

The California Senate Office of Research released a new policy brief this week that outlines some of the new ways mental health issues will need to be handled in California.

The brief laid out several developments in mental health care:

  • Starting in 2014, private health plans will need to cover mental health;
  • Health plans will be required to provide coverage for substance use disorder treatment by 2014;
  • As part of a shift of responsibilities to county governments,  Medi-Cal patients in most counties with serious and persistent mental illness or serious emotional disturbances are now typically referred to county care, at county mental health departments; and
  • Poor, childless people without disabilities had been ineligible for Medi-Cal, but now will qualify for health benefits.

Some of the details of caring for patients with mental health issues still need to be worked out, the report said. States will be responsible for defining the scope of these benefits within established federal guidelines, which have not yet been released.

According to the report, almost 20% of California adults suffer from some kind of mental disorder and one in 25 California adults shows signs of a serious mental illness.

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